Monday, June 26, 2017

Blessings In Disguise

You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads.
We went through fire and through water;
But You have brought us out to a place of abundance.

—Psalm 66:10-12

“You…You…You…You…You…You." Six times in three verses. The psalmist sees God in every ordeal. Fiery trials, strictures, pressure, people riding roughshod over his head, fire and rain—all of this came to him through the hand of God.

Here lies one of the great enigmas of our faith: God accepts the responsibility for the evil that befalls us. Scripture affirms it; I can't explain it; I can only state it.

One of the most startling statements in the Bible occurs on an occasion in which Satan, having done his worst to torment Job, appears a second time before God—who takes the blame for all that Satan did to Job: "You incited me to act against him" (Job 2:3). God is big enough to take responsibility for all that befalls us.

Seeing God in our ordeals makes them more meaningful. If everything in the universe is random it's a very, scary place. But if God’s mercy orders all that pains us, we can assume that there’s a purpose in it all.

God is love. He cannot be otherwise. If that's true, everything in life is screened through His affection for us and thus everything, even adversity, must work together for "the good life"—not that we’re knee-deep in clover, but that we have the best life of all, a life that reflects the lovingkindness of Jesus (Romans 8:28).

There's a hint of that in the psalm: David's suffering is God "searching" and "refining" (66:10). Suffering purifies us and makes us better than before, a point the psalm makes as well: "You bring us out (of suffering) to a place of (overflowing) abundance[1]” (66:12).

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies: 
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand, 
Are blessings in disguise.

David Roper

[1] Same word that David uses in Psalm 23:5: “My cup overflows.”

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